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El Hongo at Playa Balandra

La Paz

Largest population of any city in Baja California Sur, the attitude and  feeling here is quite laid-back.  The city welcomes visitors, but does not survive on their presence alone.  Residents and visitors alike share the enthusiasm for the malec�n area in the late afternoon and through the evening. Having a cocktail or cup of coffee while taking in the sunset along the malec�n is a must.  The beaches north of town are quite tropical and enjoyed by (again) both locals and visitors alike.  If you have the chance, and budget to do so, a trip to the islands Esp�ritu Santo, Partida and Los Isolotes is well worth the trip.  More on this below.


Places to stay:

Posada Santa Fe -- Elegant, small "boutique" bed & breakfast located on the north end of the malec�n directly across from (and facing) the bay.  The feel of a private residence (which it was built to be if an owner so chooses), rooms are richly decorated, plush, comfortable, and extremely inviting.  Bathrooms include a large marble bathtub (very, very nice!).  Upstairs is a veranda for common use by guests, where breakfast is served, and if you choose, for relaxing late in the day while watching the sunset outside, or inside by the piano bar.  A must for the discriminating traveler, and the best value in this price range for Baja California Sur.  quintasol@baja.net.mx  112.55871  Deluxe

Palmas Suites --  Uguet Hidalgo has transformed this former apartment complex into a bed and breakfast.  Rooms are all unique and have fans and kitchenettes.  On Mutualismo, just east of Bravo, a half-block off the malec�n.  112.24623.   Budget to Moderate 

Hotel Lorimar -- On Bravo, about a block from the malec�n.  A few rooms placed in a back courtyard away from the street.  The owners have a few exotic birds in the main lobby area that pleasantly adds to the ambiance.  Rooms are clean, and have hot water and old a/c units.  Excellent place to connect with international travelers.   The upstairs restaurant is worth visiting during your stay.  112.53822.  Budget

Bravo Inn -- 

Hotel Pekin -- On the northern end of the malec�n, and above the Pekin Restaurant (a so-so Chinese/Cantonese restaurant).   Very clean rooms, most with some kind of bay-view, and a/c.  (I think there were phones and t.v.'s there too...).  It's a little further away from the downtown area than others, which can be either good or bad depending on your point of view. 112.50995.  Budget

Caba�as de Los Arcos -- A better value than the sister complex next door at the Hotel Los Arcos, but lacking views of the bay.  Primary rooms here are high thatched-roofed "caba�as" with small fireplaces that surround a lush, tropically floral courtyard and well-taken care of swimming pool (there's a bar by the pool as well for those in need of refreshment).  An excellent place to lie out in the sun and relax.   There are "standard" rooms towards the back of the complex that actually have more square-footage than the caba�as, and are a very good value.  All rooms come with a stocked mini-bar and coffee maker as well.  Reservations for both properties can be made in the U.S. through 800-347-2252, or 714-450-9000.  Local Tel# is: 112.22744  Moderate to Deluxe

La Concha Resort -- Located outside of town at km.5 on the road to the ferry terminal.  This is an excellent property located on the water by a very nice white-sand (swimming-friendly) beach.  Quite a bit of focus on water sports, and many activities are right at your fingertips here.  The facility has a tennis court on premises as well.  Well worth your consideration if a resort-vacation is what you're looking for, especially one that's more affordable than the escalating prices in the Los Cabos area.  In the U.S., 800-999-2252, or 619-260-0991.   Local Tel# is: 112.16120  Deluxe

Hotel Mediterrane --  

Pensi�n California -- Probably the most favored ultra-low-cost property in town (although there are many).  Extremely basic accommodations around a courtyard where most guests congregate at one time of the day or another.  For the barebones budget-minded traveler.  112.22896  Ultra-Ultra-Budget

Hotel Se�orial -- Located one block north and one block east of the downtown plaza, this location is little known, is priced about the same as the P. California listed previously, has (only slightly) nicer rooms, but no real place to interact/congregate with fellow guests/travelers.  Because of its location it's also quieter than the other choices in this price category.  Worth mentioning.  112.71436  Ultra-Ultra-Budget

Hotel Plaza Boulevard -- Nothing fancy here, just plain rooms, hot water, and old a/c units (a/c is almost unheard of in this price range).  There's graffiti on the outside wall of the property, but the parking courtyard inside is small and private.  Located just off the Transpeninsular highway on 5 de Febrero (a short drive to the malec�n).  Ultra-Budget

Hotel Tijuana -- 

Hotel Posada Mora -- 

Hotel Calafia -- Slightly west of town along the Transpeninsular highway (just follow the street along the malec�n west), near one of the CCC supermarkets.  This clean, and fairly quiet property offers rooms with excellent a/c units, plenty of hot water, fair-sized rooms that surround a courtyard for convenient off-street parking and a often-used swimming pool.  The hotel staff is quite friendly and accommodating.   An excellent value overall, and really not that far to drive from downtown (2 miles at most).  112.25822  Ultra-Budget

Motel Villa del Sol -- The facilities here have been upgraded over the past couple of years.  The rooms offer considerable privacy (purposely).  Guests can pull the curtain closed behind their car (each unit has its own parking space) and there is a small swiveling door where motel staff can deliver drinks ordered from your room without you, the guest, having to answer the door.  All rooms have one king-sized bed, and there are a couple of rooms that have a "Jacuzzi" (whirlpool).  Located slightly further west along the highway than the Calafia mentioned above.  Its exterior is the color orange, unmistakable and hard to miss day or night.  112.40298  Budget


Places to eat:

Super Tacos de Baja California -- Excellent fish and shrimp tacos, and plenty of "fixings" to liven up your meal even more.  Located on Mutualismo a block off the malec�n, just west of the Hotel Perla.  Open at 8:30a.m. and closed at 5:30p.m. daily.  Ultra-Budget

Kiwi -- Located on the beach along the malec�n.  Very pleasant, clean, upscale atmosphere with a general all-encompassing menu.  Competently done.  Great value, atmosphere and location. The smoked marlin quesadilla appertizer is highly recommended.  Budget

Tequila's Bar & Grill -- Located a block from the malec�n on Mutualismo, next to the Palmas Suites B&B.  Short menu featuring steak, fish, and hamburger.   There's a small bar and restaurant area up front, a small open area through the back, and beyond is a high palapa-roofed larger bar area with pool table, television, and small barstool-type tables.  The entire facility has Mexican and Baja themed motifs and painted murals on the walls.  Great atmosphere.  Cuban cigars are available here as well.  Budget to Moderate

Mercado Municipal Francisco Madero -- Great place a few blocks off the malec�n for inexpensive "eats."  Outside there are food vendors/stands and a tortilleria.  Inside is Jugos Mary where I special order a fruit smoothie (licuado) of ONLY:  banana, strawberry, mango & orange juice.  All of these are at rock bottom prices.  Ultra-Budget

Sushi Express -- "Eddie," the proprietor has worked hard to make this a favorite spot of local businesspeople in town.  Once located in front of the Palmas Suites, he moved a couple of blocks closer to the business district at the corner of   Madero & Degollado.  Excellent selection of typical sushi fare as well as what the present-day's catch has brought in locally as well.  Budget to Moderate

Restaurant Drag�n -- Overall, the best option among the Asian restaurants in town (that I'm aware of) because of the food and the ambiance in this second-story location a block off the malec�n (16 de Septiembre).  Budget

El Bermejo -- One of the nicest restaurants in La Paz for romantic ambiance, let alone food.  Located inside the Hotel Los Arcos.  Specialties include steak and seafood.  An interesting menu item is the lobster-stuffed chicken.  Worth consideration for a special night out with the one you love.  Open 7a.m. to 11p.m.   Moderate

Restaurant La Mar (y Pe�a) -- One would think that La Paz would be full of unique seafood restaurants.  It's not.  I've only recently become aware of this excellent restaurant.  It's not walking distance from the malec�n, so a car, taxi or public transportation are in order.  It's straight up the street 16 de Septiembre, just past the signal at Isabel La Catolica (maybe around 2 miles).  The restaurant is air-conditioned, has Mexican-motif table coverings, and the menu includes such items as:   Albondigas de Cameron (Shrimp Balls), seafood machaca (your choice of steamed tuna, shrimp, manta ray, or crab), stuffed chocolate clams, and shrimp-stuffed avocado.   The seafood cocktails and soups are priced about the same as the entrees.   Open 10a.m.-10p.m. daily.  Budget

El Cortijo -- 

El Claustro -- 

El Quinto Sol -- There are a handful of places in town catering to vegetarians ("vegetarianos").   This is the most well-known and convenient (and hell, it's good too!).   Located in a popular-to-photograph storefront a block off the downtown plaza in the direction of the malec�n.  Open 7a.m. to 9:30p.m. daily.  Ultra-Budget


Things to do:

Nightlife -- Not the pumpin', jumpin' type of place that Cabo San Lucas is.   Present hot spots for dancing and live music are:  La Pazlapa de Carlos 'n Charlie, Las Varitas, El Claustro, and Bar La Cantina (formerly Bar El Cotorreo).  The former two have been standards and remained in business for a while, the latter two are newer places on the "scene" and such places in La Paz come and go with regularity.  So often it's just best to ask around.
Also: La Paz is a great place to sit and socialize.  Almost anywhere.  If you just stand or sit around in the same spot long enough on the malec�n or in the downtown plaza, it's practically inevitable that someone will engage you in conversation (even if it's in another language... and they may not even notice for quite some time, if at all).  Excellent places to sit along the malec�n and socialize over a drink of one sort or another are practically next to each other:   El Cardon Grill (formerly Bacho's), and the Expresso Cafe (short food menu, and full coffee "bar").  Both have outside and inside tables.  Take advantage of the outside seats if possible.  You'll almost always meet some interesting character(s) here.  Very entertaining and occasionally educational as well.

Day trips (on land) -- Excellent destinations for day-trips are: Los Planes area beaches, the city of Todos Santos, Playa Balandra exploring/swimming/sunbathing, among many other possibilities.

Day trip (on water) -- One of the absolutely *best* ways to spend a day out of La Paz is exploring/snorkeling/relaxing on one or more of the offshore islands (Esp�ritu Santo, Partida, or with the sea lions on Los Isolotes).  Local dive shops have organized trips and will pick you up early from your hotel/motel/habitation and drop you back off later in the afternoon after you return (around $35 U.S. per person).  If you have a small group, it's possibly more economical to hire your own panga from the Palapa Playa Azul out on Playa Tecolote (you need transportation out there).  They offer a 4 hour trip (they'll either take you on their own planned excursion, or head for any destination you choose.  If you leave early enough, for a little more $, the trip can be extended) for up to 6 people at a rate of (most recently) $100 U.S.  It's necessary to leave fairly early in the morning so that you can safely return prior to the afternoon Coromuel winds kick-up and make the crossing back across the channel difficult, rough and wet.

Museo de Antropolog�a -- Three floors of mostly Cape region anthropology, with many fossils and artifacts from ancient and Indian times.  Free admission.

Biblioteca de Hist�ria de las Californias -- Located across the downtown plaza from the cathedral, this "library of California history" can be of great interest to Baja buffs.  Thousands of titles old and even newer in Spanish and English.   Many of the books from the Dawson's Book Shop collection are here to peruse, among other very interesting books on obscure subjects and historic events.  Free admission.

Artesanias Cuauht�moc -- Clothing, rugs and other textiles are authentically made by hand at this location.  Tour buses from Los Cabos make the trek up here to see this small "factory."  Located just west of downtown on the Transpeninsular highway.  Address: Calzada Abosolo #3315.   Tel#: 112.24575.

Diving -- The waters off of La Paz offer the *best* opportunities over the course of the year for divers.  Many popular dive spots exist, and it's best to check with the local dive shops (Baja Buceo Y Servicio --Diving & Service-- is the oldest and most well-established of these) to see which spots are the best at the time of year you're in town. 


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Last revised: June 21, 2002

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